Jake's Journey with Apraxia

And the Friends We Met Along the Way

I believe there are angels among us. Sent down to us, from somewhere up above. They come to you and me in our darkest hour. To teach us how to live, To show us how to give, To guide us with the light of love.

“Angels Among Us” – Alabama

The day after the school slayings in Connecticut, when my heart was already heavy, I received the news that a little girl, who has practically became a local celebrity, had passed away. Lily was eleven years old and she lost her three year battle with cancer.

We knew Lily because my husband and I went to high school with her father. While I have followed Lily’s story over the past three years, I have not seen her face-to-face since she was a preschooler and snuck away at a party, only to be found outside on the second floor balcony getting some fresh air. While everyone was worried about her, she was cool, calm, and collected. Light years ahead of her time even before she had gotten the diagnosis that would turn her innocent world upside down.

What made Lily stand out? What made her different?

First and foremost, she had the most beautiful smile you’ve ever seen. Beauty and grace radiated from her spirit. While Lily’s courage and strength astounded me, her natural God-given talent to bring people together and inspire them was remarkable. Each time over the years when I would hear this little girl sing or see her smile beaming from a photograph, I couldn’t help but feel something deep in my heart.

Just listen to her singing the national anthem before a Braves game at Turner Field when she was ten years old …

According to Yahoo Sports, Braves reliever Peter Moylan described Lily’s performance as “the longest standing ovation I’ve witnessed.”

Lily Anderson made people care. She made others want to do something phenomenal. She made life look easier; she made struggles seem shallower. Her fighting spirit made people want to work harder, be kinder, and go out of their way to do something nice. In today’s self-absorbed society, doesn’t this reaction speak volumes about this little girl?

Just look what an impact she made on her community …


The caption on her Facebook page read, “”Her Light Shines” – An amazing aerial shot as sweet Lily was driven to her final resting place. Thousands of her friends and people of the community lined the streets with candles lit, honoring her life.” The fire department even pitched in and extended a glowing ladder into the sky.

Faith. Hope. Love. The greatest of these is love. – 1 Corinthians 13:13

While Lily’s parents must feel deep sorrow over the loss of their little girl, I think they also feel remarkably blessed to have brought such a special, meaningful life into the world.

The little boy who shared his story in the Heaven is for Real book says that he saw and picked out his parents from heaven before he was ever born. I haven’t read this book, but I saw him on the Katie Couric talk show and when he was very young, he was able to give his parents details about their honeymoon. Isn’t that interesting to think about? What if you were chosen because you were the best person for the job?

It’s an intriguing way of looking at this challenge that has been placed upon us.

Lily’s story makes apraxia seem so much more doable and tolerable. After absorbing all of her story, this speech disorder feels more like a hill when compared to the mountain of cancer. The hard work doesn’t seem so exhausting when you see the energy that sick little girl had when she belted out heartfelt tunes.

The only way I can begin to comprehend Lily’s tragic sickness, is to think her presence here on Earth was for some greater good. Sometimes God chooses ordinary people to do extraordinary things. Lily was that girl.

* When I went to double-check the lyrics to the song above, which I have always loved, I found a rendition of “Angels Among Us” that Demi Lovato shared on Christmas Eve in memory of the Newtown, CT victims. It is beautiful.

7 thoughts on “Angels Among Us

  1. Wow, what a beautiful, heartfelt post. I can’t imagine losing a child. Lily seemed like a true blessing to anyone she met. My prayers go out to Lily’s family.

    I loved what you said about us being chosen to parent the children we do because we’re the best person for the job. Sometimes I think God chose us so we can rely on Him and His strength, more than if we were parenting children who didn’t have special needs. I found your words very encouraging.

    Thanks for posting this lovely tribute to Lily and sharing your own thoughts and heart.

    I must admit I am contemplating starting another blog similar to yours about our own journey with my son’s apraxia. I recently discovered and love your blog and I’ve learned so much about apraxia from several sources that I think it would be awesome to start blogging about it. Though it won’t come about probably until January.
    Anyway, best of luck to you and Jake and your family in the New Year. 🙂

    1. tstarmom says:

      Jenn, Thank you for your kind words. Be sure to let me know if you start an apraxia blog. I would love to check it out. We can all learn so much from each other.

  2. Tara says:

    I’m sobbing right now ….. Thank you for sharing Lily’s story … I also loved what you said about us being chosen to parent the children we do .. because we’re the best person for the job. Wow. BEAUTIFULLY WRITTEN!!!!!
    Tara (from Savannah, GA … moving soon to Minneapolis, MN)

  3. Jenny says:

    I was in tears last night as I read this post. I forwarded this to my friend Eleanor who lost her little girl to cancer. Beautifully written Tori.

  4. tstarmom says:

    Jenny & Tara – Good to hear from you girls. I’m glad you enjoyed this post. Some posts are extra special to me; this is one of those. How ironic is it that the morning after I publish this story on angels and love that Jake said “I love you” to me for the first time? Just gives me chill bumps to think about it. He was walking into the bathroom and he just turned around out of the blue and said, “I love you mama.” I squealed and then he said, “I love you Too Much.” And then he said “that” about 5 more times b/c I think he was liking the reaction he was getting. I’ve waited so long to hear those words and it was well worth waiting 4 years and almost 4 months to hear it.

    1. Tara says:

      Tori – My heart is melting for you right now that Jake said “I LOVE YOU” for the first time!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That is incredible!!! YEAH JAKE!!!! Oh my gosh … my little guy just said “ball” for the first time (his first word at all) and I was crying … so I can only imagine what it will be like when he says that! You and Jake continue to inspire all of us … Thank you for sharing …. and we celebrate right along with you! HAPPY NEW YEAR to you and your beautiful family … Tara

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